FIGHT FOR KOGI: WHY GOVERNOR BELLO IS LOSING OUT
When he was sworn in as the fourth civilian governor of Kogi State on January 27, 2016, Alhaji Yahaya Bello came into power with mass followership and lots of sympathisers, but today he no longer enjoys that support, no thanks to his style of governance.
By Boluwaji Obahopo, Lokoja
After promising so much and delivering so little, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State is turning out not to be the messiah Kogi has been waiting for. How did a governor who was a darling of his Ebira people and the face of youths suddenly become the man many like to hate and treat with contempt?
While it is not yet possible to conclusively explain the governor’s inability to deliver on good governance, a pattern is emerging that helps to explain why his government is turning out to be a huge disappointment.
As soon as he came into power in 2016, Bello declared a toga of ‘New Direction.’ Fast forward to 25 months later, political pundits say the administration is better addressed as ‘No Direction’. Bello seems to have penchants for fighting. He started the war with the House of Assembly orchestrating the change of leadership twice in a year, and extended it to the labour unions with some already proscribed. He is at loggerheads with his party (APC), creating a parallel executive. He is presently at war with two of the senators from Kogi, Dino Melaye and Ahmed Ogembe, while being indifferent to the House of Reps members from his state.
Of all the wars he is fighting, the one with Dino and Ogembe seems odd. It shouldn’t be easy for Bello to forget how Dino ‘helped’ him to achieve his dream of becoming governor. Those who know say Dino was one of those who were privy to Prince Abubakar Audu’s death and quickly leaked it to influential people. Had Dino kept mute, Audu would have been declared the winner of the 2016 governorship election before the announcement of his death and his running mate, James Faleke, would have naturally inherited the governorship. Dino’s early song changed the narrative and brought the intrigues which settled in Bello’s favour. And Dino played a significant role in Bello’s inauguration trying hard to sell him and give him legitimacy before the courts backed him.
Ogembe hails from the same town with Bello. Despite being from a different political party, kinsmen affinity was there at the beginning. How the story suddenly changed still baffles many. The political hatred got to the peak when, penultimate Saturday, Ogembe’s empowerment program was disrupted, and his house ransacked with property destroyed. The senator alleged that the governor was behind the attack. The Ogembe/Bello supremacy battle, if not addressed quickly, may lead to the return of political violence that characterised the old Kogi Central. It will start another clannish supremacy.
The governor has also extended his battle with Dino to the Senate. Last year, at a public function in Akwa Ibom, Dino was a guest of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader. At the function, Governor Udom Emanuel heaped praises on Dino. This irked Bello who took a swipe on his fellow governor in the open. He also berated Akpabio. A move to address the issue by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekeremadu, saw him caught in the crossfire. And that was how a Dino/ Bello battle enlarged to Bello vs Senate.
Bello’s fighting nature has turned so big that many begin to ask if Bello is a governor or a fighter. At the last count, Bello has fought or is at loggerheads with two senators, House of Assembly members, House of Reps members, party executive, labour, NMA, journalists, the Senate and Hon. James Faleke. To Bello, every misunderstanding must end in fight. He seems not to have room for diplomacy.
DIVISIVE GOVERNANCE STYLE
Despite attempts by his aides to diffuse tension generated by the governor’s emergence, it was obvious Bello never thought of reconciliation with those aggrieved over his choice as replacement for the late Audu. Bello jettisoned those who laboured from the Audu’s camp to win the governorship election and picked 75 per cent of his appointees from those in his camp who decamped to Accord Party and only returned to APC when he was announced as Audu’s replacement. The remaining 25 per cent were from his allies in the PDP. So much for a man who voiced his intention for proper reconciliation.
The fatal clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers across Kogi did not start today. The clashes had become deadly such that many voiced out against the establishment of cattle colony as proposed by the Federal government. But Bello, before gauging the mind-set of his people, quickly accepted to have the state used as testing ground for cattle colony. Even when the opposition against it was rife, the governor ignored all and announced three local government areas in Kogi for the scheme. He gave out open invitation to the Fulani to come to the state without proper preparation for the scheme and social implications. Today, the menace of the herdsmen has continued unabated.
HUNGER IN THE LAND.
There is hunger in the land. Kogi is purely a civil service state where the bulk of the money in circulation comes from civil servants. A delay in payment of salary thus leads to the lack of monetary flow.
The governor’s handling of salary payment is one of the factors threatening to wipe off his support base. Many Kogi people, especially civil servants, are disillusioned about the manner Bello handled the public service sector. First was the screening exercise for workers that lasted close to two years, and left many out of job. This was followed by the “traffic light” style of salary payment – in a particular month some will get their salary while others in the same category will not get; only for the trend to change in the next pay day for those that got to be ignored while those who were not fortunate earlier will now get.
In the beginning when Bello began inquiries into past administrations, it was easier to defend the government’s war against corruption. Not anymore. The contradiction in the governor’s war against corruption is best illustrated by the Audu’s era he left out of the probes simply because they are from the same party. It has become obvious that the panel of inquiries were set up by Bello to witch-hunt his predecessors.
Seventy per cent of Bello’s aides, according to analysts, perform below expectation. There’s nothing concrete one can view as their contributions to the state or the offices they hold. Aside the commissioners for agric, environment (now in education), health, women affairs, works, and finance, most of the rest are relatively unknown and believed to be under performers. Analysts characterize them as “Under -17” commissioners. Same goes for some Special Advisers. No wonder the people of the state went to town last week with joy when reports of cabinet dissolution filtered out. But within an hour after the governor dissolved the cabinet, he reversed the decision. To the PDP, Bello is confused.
CHIEF OF STAFF
The claim of Bello’s Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja, being in charge of government has been rife. Onoja has continued to enjoy limelight. He makes policy statements and has a retinue of aides.
ONE WEEK, ONE TROUBLE
Many are beginning to read meaning to the happenings in the state. No matter how novel the governor’s ideas may be, they always come out in bad light. Bello is cast in the toga of one -week -one- trouble-governor. The alleged double registration (for election) palaver, the claim of military gears importation and the alleged secret police detention camp are a few examples. Sadly, Bello is losing out in Kogi politics.
With Ukeje’s Return, PDP will Bounce Back in Bende – Ikpeazu
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has commended the people of Bende Local Government Area for honouring their daughter and former Member representing Bende Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon.
The Governor made the remark today during a civic reception organised in her honour at the Bende LGA headquarters. He said the reception would serve as a tonic to propel her to do more in uplifting the polity of Bende in particular, Abia and Nigeria in general.
Governor Ikpeazu said hosting the former federal lawmaker showed that the people of Bende were knowledgeable and strategic, and urged them to rally round her.
The Governor used the opportunity to reiterate that he would sustain his membership of the PDP as it is the party that has favoured Ndị Igbo greatly, pointing out that it was the PDP that gave the South East the Senate Presidency, made an Igbo man the Chief of Army Staff, Inspector General of Police, among others unlike the APC that has created little or no space for the Igbo man, saying the event had many significant importance including the fact that Bende LGA is the gateway to Abia North and that it proves that Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje places Abia State above her personal interests.
The State Chief Executive saluted the youths of Bende Local Government Area for recognizing the good works Hon Nnenna Ukeje whom he described as “a priceless Jewel of Abia politics.
Also, the Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Ude Oko Chukwu stated that the absence of Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje in the party has affected the party but by her coming back, the PDP in Bende looks good to reclaim its place of pride. He said if Bende was strong again, Abia North would be stronger.
Contributing, the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji urged the Governor to rebuild Bende PDP around Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, saying that she has the capacity to regain the confidence of the party in the LGA. He maintained that Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje was duty-bound to rebuild the PDP in Bende.
In their various speeches, some stakeholders in Bende LGA including Hon. Emmanuel Ndubuisi of the State House of Assembly, Barr. James Okpara, Chief Gabriel Okereke Elendu and Chief B. A Meregini
appreciated the Governor’s efforts in fixing Abia State. They said Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje is an exceptional politician, who did her best and gave the Bende people a humble service and deserves to be rewarded.
They thanked the youths for organising the event and said that her home coming would help in rebuilding PDP in Bende LGA
In an address, the Chairman Organizing Committee and Deputy Chairman, Bende LGA, Hon. Promise Uzoma Okoro said the youths of Bende in conjunction with Abia Democratic Initiative considered it imperative to celebrate Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje for her contributions in Bende Federal Constituency. He described her as the Commander of the First Eleven in Bende politics and assured that the youths would continue to support her to bring about the needed greater development.
Responding, the celebrant, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje said she was overwhelmed by the honour done her by both the Governor and the people of Bende. She said PDP was back in Bende and that she, in collaboration with the people, have the responsibility of building back Bende, assuring that she was committed to ensuring that PDP bounces back in the Local Government Area. She thanked the people for their kind words and gestures, and described Bende as the gateway to success in Abia North.
The event featured conferment of a chieftaincy title of ADA UKWU BENDE by the Bende Council of Traditional Rulers led by Eze Uwakwe Ukaegbu.
2023: We don’t Want Christian President Again MURIC tells Obasanjo
The Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC, has opposed the rumored drafting of the current president of the African Development Bank, ADB, Akinwunmi Adesina, for the 2023 presidential race by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Director of MURIC, Ishaq Akintola, made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Mr Akintola stressed that whereas three Yoruba Christians had occupied Aso Rock villa, no single Yoruba Muslim has held the post of president or vice president since independence.
The Statement reads: “Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo is reportedly making attempts to draft the current president of the African Development Bank (ADB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, into the 2023 presidential race.
“We remind the former president that as a Yoruba Christian, he has led Nigeria twice.
Two other Yoruba Christians have also occupied Aso Rock. Chief Earnest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan was the interim head of state from 26th August 1993 to 17th November, 1993.
“The current vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is also a Yoruba Christian.
“Obasanjo’s attempt to drag Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina who is also a Yoruba Christian into the presidential race negates the principles of fairness, justice and equity.
“It is an attempt to rob Yoruba Muslims of the presidential slot and it violates a cardinal principle of democracy, namely, inclusiveness.
“It is an open secret that Yoruba Muslims who form the majority of the population in the South West are being denied their Allah-given fundamental human rights.
“This has led to complaints and court cases initiated by Muslims across Yorubaland over political and religious persecution. Yoruba Muslims are at the receiving end of deprivation of civil liberties.
“It is our contention that another Yoruba Christian presidency will usher in another opportunity for Christian hegemony and the marginalisation, stigmatisation, repression and persecution of Yoruba Muslims.
“Let Obasanjo tell us how many Yoruba Muslims were ministers in his administration. Even in Kwara State which is also a predominantly Muslim territory, Obasanjo picked two Christians as ministers (C. O. Adebayo and Funke Doyin). But he could not extend such ‘luxury’ to Yoruba Muslims in the South West.
“MURIC rejects this grand design to keep Muslims in Yorubaland in perpetual bondage. There are many Yoruba Muslims who are eminently qualified for the post of president.
“We also believe that the interest of the Yoruba people will be best served if they will channel their grievances towards ensuring that a Yoruba man emerges president instead of pursuing a separatist agenda that may lead them nowhere.
“We advise ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to relax his grip on the Nigerian jugular vein. He should stop pushing Yoruba Muslims to the background. Christians are not the only human beings in Yorubaland.
It’s All About El’rufai 2023: Bala Usman, Embattled NPA Boss’s Travails To Gov. El Rufai’s Ambition
Those close to Hadiza Bala Usman, suspended MD, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, believe that her current travails is linked to his closeness to Nasir El Rufai’, Governor, Kaduna State, believed to be nursing presidential ambition ahead 2023.
Usman and El Rufai’s closeness is well documented in the public domain with some speculating familial ties.
The speculations took a life of its own during 2015 general election and political activism for which Usman was a key player.
Some traducers of El Rufai’ are just bent on destroying Hardiza because they feel that she is helping the governor amass money for his 2023 presidential ambition,” explained a close source to the embattled NPA boss who asked not to be mentioned in name because of the political volatility of the matter.
The source, however, insists that he enjoys closeness to Usman, enough to know that there is more to the probe of the suspended NPA boss.
Usman was placed on suspension over alleged looting of N156.3bn under her watch at the NPA.
Summarising the allegation against Usman, the House of Reps minority caucus said that apart from the unremitted N165 billion cited by the supervisory Ministry, other documents and reports from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation had also uncovered several sleaze, including unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) amounting to N3,667,750,470. $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14.
The legislative caucus said the summary is also in addition to audit query of N15.18 billion allegedly stolen through inflated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects/programmes under the watch of the suspended NPA Managing Director.
“The real issue here is that some political players believe that Usman has been using the NPA to warehouse money for El Rufai’ to prosecute a presidential ambition,” explained ElombahNews informer.
Before 2015, Usman was keenly involved in the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, campaign which many saw as political tool to uppend former administration under People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Not a few political players insist that the BBOG movement had the imprematurs of El Rufai’ at the time.
But El Rufai’ has always contended that the choice of the next president after President Mohammed Buhari should come from the south of the country which in effect excludes him, a Northerner, from contesting the presidential election in 2023.
These, for some pundits, is El Rufai’s scheme of campaigning for the slot of vice presidency under a Southern President.
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